The typical food drive is not much of an "artsy" affair. It usually conjures up images of paper bags and fold-up tables and creamed corn. But thanks to a new charity called Canstruction, design competitions are popping up around the world that have turned food collection into world-class art exhibits. And best of all, these competitions are raking in millions of pounds of food for the hungry each year.

Just what is a Canstruction competition? The events are held throughout the year at locations all over North America, from Houston to San Francisco to New York to Saskatoon, Canada. The competitions challenge designers, architects and engineers to construct gravity-defying sculptures using non-perishable canned food items. Some designs are whimsical, like this minion from Despicable Me or this lawn gnome. Others, like this heart or this candelabra, rely on structural ingenuity or creative use of labels to wow the crowd. And when the competitions are done, all of the canned food is donated to a local food bank to feed the hungry,

To date, roughly 170 cities and 30,000 volunteers have participated in Canstruction events. Last year alone, these events collected more than 3.4 million pounds of food for the hungry. That's enough to provide 2.5 million meals to those in need.  

Want to see how it all comes together? Check out this awesome time-lapse video of an apple design from Boston's Canstruction competition:

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